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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldnt put it down.
Didnt think I would like this, being an absolute wuss when it comes to horror moves, but i couldnt put it down.
Published 9 months ago by Samantha Horton

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but dragged on a bit
Whilst I enjoyed the style of writing used throughout The Strain, and was intrigued by the various strands of the story as they appeared I felt that a promising start dissolved into a rather lack lustre book. The story got a bit tired and relentless after the middle, I felt that it could have been about 200 pages shorter and still said the same things. I can't believe the...
Published on 16 Oct 2011 by Manda Moo


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but dragged on a bit, 16 Oct 2011
By 
Manda Moo (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
Whilst I enjoyed the style of writing used throughout The Strain, and was intrigued by the various strands of the story as they appeared I felt that a promising start dissolved into a rather lack lustre book. The story got a bit tired and relentless after the middle, I felt that it could have been about 200 pages shorter and still said the same things. I can't believe the story extends even further into a trilogy, but then I suppose there's still the potential of vampires spreading to the rest of the world isn't there. I might read the other books, but I'm not in a huge hurry.

If you are a fan of vampire stories, this is a good one, but with a good editing it could be much better and tighter.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but failed to fulfil its potential, 7 Jun 2012
By 
John Milton (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend. They were of the opinion that I would LOVE this given that (and I'm not ruining anything here since it's on the cover of the book) it's all about a vampiric plague infesting New York.

The novel sees the arrival of a plane in New York City and the efforts by a CDC doctor, a disgraced European professor and assorted others in a race against time to fight the vampire contagion and `The Master'.

That short synopsis is effectively what the book is all about and that would have been enough to snare my attention and make me part with a few Queen's Heads for the book; but the big attraction for me was the author: Guillermo Del Toro, the man behind Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. I was later to discover that Del Toro, although lending his name to this novel, submitted a 12 page layout and let co-writer Chuck Hogan do the rest.

However, I have to say, that considering this man put his name to the tome, I was quite disappointed. Allow me to seemingly contradict myself here, please do not doubt I enjoyed this book thoroughly! My problem lies with the fact that given Del Toro is identified as the author, the novel lacks the striking originality of much of his work, in fact, `The Strain' is an incredibly derivative piece of work. Allow me to explain...

Early in the novel, a plane lands at JFK airport in mysterious circumstances carrying a strange cargo; much like the Demeter in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Instead of a Transylvanian Count, we have a Polish nobleman. The Van Helsing of The Strain is a Holocaust survivor and we have a CDC doctor instead of Jonathan Harker.

Many reviewers seem to think that Del Toro was doffing his cap to the horror granddaddy with such references. I did not feel this was the case, given that Del Toro seems to have channeled much of his own pre-existing work into the tale here. The vampires are incredibly similar, if not almost identical to the reapers of Blade II and the vampires eventually nest in the subway tunnels of the city, much like the swarm in Mimic.

I hope that Del Toro will develop this tale significantly in The Fall , the second of this trilogy, but without giving the story away, he has yet again borrowed elements from his own movies that I choose not to reveal for fear of ruining the books for readers of this review.

Again, I feel I have to emphasise that yes, I did enjoy this book! It truly is great fun, ought to easily transfer to the big screen and I have already bought the second of the trilogy but with Del Toro's name attached to it, I expected so much more. I do recommend the first of this trilogy but please, do not read with the expectations of anything more than a horror-action blockbuster type novel, with a screen version that seems to be very much on the cards.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
I read this book as the author has made some boss films. I work as a librarian and as such have read many books good and bad. This was a very hard book to read, ideas seemed to be stolen from every virus related/vampire movie, computer game and novel. I am truly appalled at myself for forcing this book through my eyeballs into my skull. I cant get that time back. Avoid at all costs
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Start!, 9 Oct 2013
By 
Joao Cardeira Jorge "A Bad Man" (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
"The Strain" is a competent beginning for a vampire trilogy, with lots going for it, like insane and tense action, scary moments and lots of wonderfully disgusting scenes. The writing is good, easy to read, with nice descriptions of the creatures and of the numerous action sequences. The characters are nice enough, with lots of space to develop in the next two books but already interesting and compelling, especially Abraham Setrakian, an old, tough vampire hunter, reminiscent of Van Helsing but with enough personality to stand on its own. His absolute hate and drive to destroy the vampires is contagious and he is without a doubt the best character in the book. The others could seriously use some work, especially our "hero" Eph, an epidemiologist who is burdened with the usual drivel about being divorced and his son's custody fight and all that drama for most of the book. It never works, never sets him apart from countless other characters in countless other fiction works. He works as an avatar for the reader, faced with this new "horror" that's almost impossible believe and learning about these vampires as we are but he's far to bland to gain any attachment from the reader. Even Fet, a pest control guy, whom only shows up in a few pages is far more interesting than him, with his big ugly face masking a swift mind and a lot of useful knowledge. There are more characters, like Nora, a silly love interest for Eph, his ex-wife, who could win a "Darwin Award", and his son, Zack who's depth stops at being smart... for a kid. Like I said, there's lots of space to improve.
Anyway you don't read a book like this for the great characters. So on to the juicy stuff. Well, the book starts slow, building up tension and cranking up the suspense and creepy factor. Unfortunately this build up goes on for far too long and it takes about 200 pages for something to "really happen". When it does however, its a wild ride.
"The Strain"'s creatures are a mix between vampires and zombie's. They're relentless, killing machines without any purpose other than to feed. They have no mercy or even a mind. They cant be reasoned with. They're vile, loathsome, hellish entities. They attack by instinct and spread their sickness. Yes, like most zombies, these vampires are the product of a virus and "The Strain" tries to go deep into biological explanations and it works for the most part and gives a new, more realistic twist to the creatures. The vampires did remind me of Nomac and the "reaper virus", from "Blade 2", a movie directed by... well... Guillermo Del Toro but they're still highly captivating monsters. The book combines the epidemic genre, with vampire tropes and a pre-apocalyptic, "how it all began" vibe. It works well and its an addictive, compulsive read.
The main villain, the host of the infection, "The Master", is a threatening, regal figure, a scary and fascinating creature with control over his minions and "The Strain" only touches at a group of "elders", like him and hints at a future war, between the "clans" with the humans in the middle for the next volumes. Things sure are looking good.
Even with some flaws, like weak characters and a slow beginning, "The Strain" is a great beginning, laying the foundations for an epic tale and a breath of fresh air in the genre.
Just a quick note before I go! When a world renowned epidemiologist tells you to get out of town... well you should probably take his advice... I mean, Jesus Christ!!!! How stupid can you get? Oh and for God's sake, when you're in trouble don't go back to your house just to change clothes! Seriously, Chuck Hogan? Come on!!!!
Anyway, on the "The Fall".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldnt put it down., 9 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
Didnt think I would like this, being an absolute wuss when it comes to horror moves, but i couldnt put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable but let down by the weak characters, 29 Aug 2013
By 
Killie (Armadale, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Strain (Kindle Edition)
"The Strain" by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is the first novel in a trilogy that will explore their own vision of the vampire genre. This book itself starts with the landing of a Boeing 777 in New York which suddenly stops on the taxi way with all its power off. Upon investigating the aircraft, it is discovered that nearly all the passengers are dead from some unknown cause. When strange things start to occur such as the disappearance of all the bodies from the morgue, the CDC scientist in charge, Dr Eph Goodweather finds himself unable to comprehend what is happening. However, before long a holocaust survivor who has been hunting vampires for decades reveals the truth to Eph and draws him into the fight to try and save mankind.

The novel flowed very well as it started slow and deliberate to set the mood before picking up the pace as the story progressed. I quite simply found the book to be a very quick and easy read that entertained me from start to finish. In addition it was good to see a vampire novel again that actually focused on horror with some rather creepy sections and vampires that are actually being vicious, heartless creatures with no remorse.

I do have a few issues with the vampire premise in the book related to the fact that the authors have tried to create a realistic element to vampirism with the use of a parasite that doesn't survive under UV light. This is all very well and good, but then I fail to understand why these vampires are then also allergic to silver or why they need to be invited to cross a body of water. These two things don't really tie up with vampirism being caused by a parasite and in my opinion it slightly spoils the authors' attempt at giving vampirism a realistic edge.

The biggest let down with the book however is in regards to the characters which is a shame as this meant that what could have been a great book is just a good book. Basically, they all seem very cliché and undeveloped with the main protagonist Eph being very two-dimensional. It almost feels like the book has been written based on an initial TV series outline and there has been no attempt to enhance or build on the character's basic descriptions.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that shown the vampire genre could still be mature, intense and dark. I had almost grown to believe that all future vampire novels would be paranormal romance in style. The characters are rather weak, but overall the novel is an entertaining read despite this issue. My final word of warning however is that people should not fall for some of the commentary around this novel which implies it offers a fresh look at vampire stories. Yes it is different to the usual standard we tend to see these days but I don't think there was anything here that hasn't been covered in other novels. So feel free to pick up the book and enjoy a vampire novel that tries to embrace its horror roots but don't go in expecting to see something completely original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, 9 May 2013
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I didn't hate this book but it was unremarkable and not that readable, to be honest I was pretty disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars cracking start, not as good as it should have been, 27 April 2013
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This review is from: The Strain (Kindle Edition)
For me, this book is a lesson in unfulfilled potential. Whether or not the 2nd and 3rd books redeem them I dont know, as I havent read them, however I finished this feeling slightly deflated.

Which is not to say that I didnt enjoy The Strain - I did. The imaginative opening and interspersing of backstory worked really well, and the wealth of source material with which the authors had to work was used creatively and judiciously. However for all that, there was something missing. Possibly it was the expectation of the genuinely brilliant which you get with Del Toro which was msising (as he did not write much of this by all accounts) - without this level of anticipation, I might have been more impressed.

The characters were varied and well developed, in particular Satrakian, and there was enough in the plot to keep interest up throughout. If anything, the authors could have gone further and been more brutal with the characters, who seemed to lead a charmed life throughout. I am undecided whether or not to shell out for the remainder of the trilogy.

3.5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good but juts not special enough, 17 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Strain (Kindle Edition)
Being a huge fan of both Guillermo del Toro, and of post-apocalyptic fiction, I was really excited when I discovered this book and assumed it would be incredible. Perhaps having such high expectations is what slightly ruined this for me, because whilst it is engaging and well-written by the main author Chuck Hogan, I was left feeling a bit disappointed. The way it uses Dracula as a template for the master is pretty clever and there are definite nods to Bram Stoker throughout the book, but it doesn't quite hold it's own against recent re-workings of the vampire genre, most notable Justin Cronin's The Passage. That said it is an enjoyable read and whilst I am not rushing out to buy the next one, it is definitely on my list of things to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very compelling read but sloppy at times., 12 Nov 2012
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This review is from: The Strain (Paperback)
TL;DR: Good pace and good gore content, but occasionally disappoints with oversimplified story and logic behind it.

If you're sick of the Twilight-style sparkly handsome bloodsuckers then this book is definitely the right door to knock on. Plenty of gore, throat being cut, heads severed and random New Yorkers turned into walking eldritch horrors craving for some warm human, no ketchup or fries.

Some other reviews criticise the stereotypical, and at times very derivative storyline - as much as I can't disagree I'm actually fine with it. The book still manages to be a page-turner by delivering some twists to the story and characters we've all seen before.

It would have been a straight 4 stars for me if it wasn't for one thing. What displeases me about this book is the same thing that puts me off so many mainstream movies (I think I mean Hollywood here) these days - delivering pivotal moments in a matter of 2-3 half-heartedly put together sentences, sometimes lacking cohesion and trying to make up with jargon. At times reading this book really felt like watching a movie: scene raising a question, building up suspense, cut, random scene trying to answer the questions, loud BANG, next scene. The fact is, you can usually get away with this in a movie, especially the fast-paced, action-packed ones. However, with a book, the reader has more time to think about things, and any lapses in the logic behind the story become much more apparent and annoying. Every time this happens I wonder if it's something the author hasn't spotted (which is a real shame) or just decided that he couldn't be bothered to put some more work in, hoping that perhaps no one would notice (now that's assuming your readers aren't the brightest lot - arrogant and a bit insulting).
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